During Tolkien's last years, when it was becoming apparent that he would not produce any more major titles, Allen & Unwin looked around for other ways of cashing in on the extraordinary interest that had grown up around Tolkien and Middle- earth. Their first experiments were with posters - and - which had some limited success.
In early 1973 A&U decided that a calendar might be a good seller. They selected some already published illustrations from together with a number of pictures that illustrated and even one or two for the then unpublished . The 1974 calendar sold well and, after a break in 1975, four more calendars were produced for 1976 to 1979 featuring more of Tolkien's illustrations. The drawings and paintings were then collected together in 1979 and issued in a 'coffee-table' style book called .
The supply of Tolkien's own illustrations had been exhausted, but Ralph Bakshi's animated adaption of came to the rescue and another calendar featuring stills from the film was produced for 1980. After this there was another a break until Rayner Unwin managed to persuade the Tolkien Estate to give their consent to use illustrations by other artists for further calendars.
Allen & Unwin had started to use Roger Garland to illustrate the covers of Tolkien paperbacks, so he was first in line to illustrate the 1984 calendar. Inger Edelfeldt followed in 1985, and in 1986 the calendar featured some of Michael Hague's illustrations for . Many other artists have contributed pictures in subsequent years, but the work of three artists is seen most often - that of Alan Lee, John Howe and Ted Nasmith.
All 'official' Tolkien Calendars issued by Tolkien's British publishers are shown below.
Click on an image to see a larger image and details of the artists and illustrations included, ISBN numbers, etc.
The table below shows where the days and dates given in calendars for different years are the same. This is handy if you want to re-use your old calendars - after all if you have gone to the trouble of collecting all those calendars from the 70s and 80s you might as well get some use out of them!